Why do Americans read so few translated works? A lot of reasons come to mind, but one is that translated books are often the purview of small publishers, who don’t have the same marketing budgets as the larger companies in the industry. At The New Yorker’s Currency blog, Vauhini Vara looks at the statistics compiled by Three Percent, a database at the University of Rochester that tracks publications of translated works in the country. Related: Oliver Farry’s interview with the Portuguese writer António Lobo Antunes.
The rest of the morning went like that. We did synchronized clapping. We did active listening. We did a role-play exercise in which I was a girl waiting for a bus and Karloff was a masher, but when I started flirting back, she didn’t like it. I got four more cups of coffee and felt brokenhearted when my bottle gave up its last drop.
Turns out the Streisand effect applies to book sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that banning a book in China causes sales to increase both at home and abroad. “These days, smothering someone is as good as crowning that person,” the article quotes a Chinese reader as saying. You could also read Deanna Fei on being a Chinese-American writer in China.
Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
Tuesday New Release Day
New this week: 300,000,000 by Blake Butler; Quick Kills by Lynn Lurie; A Different Bed Every Time by Jac Jemc; Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke; J by Howard Jacobson; Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner; The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec; The Letters of Samuel Beckett; Volume 3; and Blue Horses by Mary Oliver. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.Support The Millions: Bookmark this link and start there when you shop at Amazon.
The office novel, by nature, is a tricky construct, if only because your average white-collar job doesn’t offer much in the way of fiction-worthy moments. That said, recent books like Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris demonstrate how fruitful it can be to wring drama out of the rat race. In the latest issue of Dissent, Cubed author Nikil Saval delves into the contradictions of office fiction. FYI, Saval wrote a Year in Reading entry for us.
In Meg Wolitzer’s new YA novel Belzhar, a group of teenagers packed off to an idyllic boarding school learn that they have the ability to undo their most serious traumas. Their discovery is sparked by a writing assignment in a class on Sylvia Plath. At Slate, Jennifer Ray Morell connects Wolitzer’s novel to Plath’s classic The Bell Jar. Related: our own Hannah Gersen’s interview with biographer Elizabeth Winder.
Slang, as readers of Shakespeare know, affects the development of language as much as any genus of terminology. At Salon, Jonathon Green writes about the strange history of English slang, as part of an excerpt from his new book, The Vulgar Tongue. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on the use of “like” in modern English.